The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Georgie Kulczyk
The Courier 

Generosity Results in Successful Elk Hunt


November 28, 2018

Steve Wellendorf / For the Courier

John McColly shows the cow elk he harvested in southeastern Montana in November. McColly was the recipient of a guided hunt courtesy of Montana Warriors on the Water and Gardner Ranch Outfitters.

Generosity often comes full circle. At times, it can be difficult to track the path of kindness, or even discern its origination, but that's part of the beauty of living in a rural area. A recent series of generous acts left a fairly easy trail to follow.

This particular kindness began with Gardner Ranch Outfitters. The family-owned business is located out of Broadus and has been offering guided hunting excursions for nearly 40 years, averaging between 90 and 100 hunts each year. Earlier this year, Gardner Ranch Outfitters donated a youth cow elk hunt, valued at approximately $1,500, to the Montana Warriors on the Water (MWOTW) organization. Doug Gardner, part owner of Gardner Ranch Outfitters, explained that they are aware of the work that the organization does, and they donated the hunt as a way to support their efforts.

Montana Warriors on the Water is a non-profit organization that provides outdoor recreational therapy and opportunities to veterans of the U. S. military at no cost. They are committed to providing safe and fun fishing, hunting and other outdoor opportunities to active duty and other military veterans. Specifically, they have a goal of providing an environment for veterans to relax and meet other veterans who may be combat-wounded or suffering from issues associated with the psychological effects of war from across the country. They also strive to ensure veterans continue to have physical access to the country they served in a mentally and emotionally stable environment, and are honored for their commitment and service to this nation.

The donated hunt was auctioned off during the 2018 Fort Peck Tour Concert and Fundraiser for MWOTW, which was held on July 28 at the Fort Peck Marina. Local philanthropists, Anne and David Bradley, were the highest bidders on the auctioned item, but they did not purchase it for their own benefit. They donated the hunt back to MWOTW with the request that it be gifted to a deserving Valley County youth.

With that request in mind, MWOTW decided to offer the hunt to Hinsdale resident John McColly. Their decision was the connection that brought everything full circle.

McColly, who is a senior at Hinsdale High School, enlisted in the Army National Guard in July of this year. He has been an active volunteer in his community, and has specifically helped out with Montana Warriors on the Water events. "I had no problem volunteering for this cause," said McColly of the organization. "I felt that it represented Warriors on the Water well to have a member of the armed forces get this hunt."

On Nov. 8, McColly, accompanied by his friend Bridger Barnett, of Glasgow, drove five hours to the Gardner Ranch for the successful weekend hunt. Although he tries to hunt each year, this was the first time he was able to bag an elk.

"We woke up to eat breakfast at 4:30 and went out before sunrise," said McColly. "We spotted a small herd and tracked them, but they were on the move. Once we saw them bedded down, our guide knew right where to go to get the shot."

McColly estimated the group had to walk about three miles to get into position. "The terrain is much different from here and it's full of wildlife," he said of the landscape.

He crawled into shooting position and settled in to wait about 320 yards from his target. "I watched for about 10 minutes through the scope before the big one stood up," he said. "He was in a good position and I took my shot." With that shot, McColly's quest for his first elk came to a close and the only thing left to do was to pack out his prize. "We had to pack it out from the side hill with all of the trees," he explained, noting that he was thankful for his friend at that time. "He was a good friend," McColly said of Barnett. "He gladly packed all of the meat out and fell a few times doing it."

Confirming that McColly was indeed deserving of the gifted hunt, Gardner praised the pair of Valley County youths. "Those were two great young men," he said. "We really enjoyed having them. They are a tribute to the Hinsdale and Glasgow communities and both communities can be really proud. John was so humble and very appreciative of the land. Outstanding young men."

Gardner Ranch Outfitters can be reached at [email protected] or by contacting Doug Gardner at 406-853-4217. You can also visit them on Facebook or their website at


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